Thursday, December 20, 2012

28

This is not a happy post.

Sorry.  At least you're warned.

I don't know why the whole Connecticut thing got to me so much.  They estimate about 160 children have been killed in the drone strikes in Pakistan.  160.  That's eight times what happened a little under a week ago in Connecticut.  Eight classrooms filled with little children's bodies.  Why am I not more upset about that? 

I think the Connecticut thing rips me up more because it's easier for me to understand.

So I'm going to focus on that right now - not because the deaths in Connecticut are any better or any worse than what happens overseas, or that they mean more or less, but because it's something I can wrap my brain around.

I've got nothing new to say about Connecticut that hasn't been said already. 

Except:

I'm so, so, SO very sick of hearing "26 deaths". 

Everywhere I turn - amidst the rabid debates over gun control and the availability of medical health care - I keep hearing about the 26 deaths from the shooting. 

Pay it forward with 26 random acts of kindness.  Stand on a stage with 26 white placards with names on them.  26 candles lit.

Etc, etc, etc.

It wasn't 26, people.

It was 28 people.

Look, I can get why people don't want to count Adam Lanza among the dead -  although I find it a little hypocritical that people are using him as a platform to shout about access to mental health care but won't even count his death.....but why does his mom no longer count as a person, as a death? Why is she not counted as a victim? Because she was shot somewhere other than the school?

I don't know why, but something about that rips my heart most of all.

Anyways, I just wanted to take a moment and say that.

It wasn't 26.

It was 28.

******

I was going to post that - and it would have made a more poignant ending to this post, but I realized I didn't want to just end with that.

I know it's been almost a week, so if I were trying to be timely with this message, I should have posted it earlier.  The thing is, I wasn't really planning on posting about Connecticut, until the whole 26/28 thing got to me last night.

So, in case it helps anyone else, here are some words that my friend, John Norling (the photographer from my sidebar) shared last Friday.  Something about it really helped me find the beginnings of peace in my heart . 

It's written from a Christian perspective, so if that sort of thing just riles you up, rather than helping you find peace, then you've been warned, and you don't have to read it.

*****

I think I immediately went through the same emotions as everyone else when I heard about the news on Friday morning. My mind kept kept trying to wrap around what had happened. A thought wouldn't get far before I would realize I was only thinking about one small part of the problem - not the whole. Like a photographer that has to keep backing up to fit everyone in a picture,  I had to keep backing up mentally to try to see the root.

Why did this school shooting hit such a raw nerve? I want to say it was because it's so wrong, and so evil,  but there are examples of evil everyday that I can read about with little reaction.

What happened was horrible. Yet it was no more horrible than much of what has happen in the long, ugly history of man. In the mid 90's an estimated 800,000 people were slaughtered in Rwanda. Most of them were killed with machetes, and often while UN troops watched. That was no less evil.

Every day it seems that bodies are found just across the border in Mexico, oftentimes without their heads, but that has become second page news at best.
As I  thought about it, I realized that I have been lulled into a false reality. I (or "we", if you want to include yourself) have come to think that the world is good, and that we can plan out each tomorrow.

That is not reality.

Where I live - in the time and place that I do -  allows me to believe in the illusion..... until I'm hit with reality, like I was with the events that unfolded on Friday morning.

I have not earned my blessings.

No where can I point at my life, at what I've done,  and say I deserve to not have pain in my life.
There is no reason that my children are home in their beds tonight and not in a morgue. It is not because I am a better person. There is nothing those parents did that would make them deserving of losing their child. 

History is full of wars, and rape, and words like "pillage". The Mayans would demand children from other tribes to offer as a sacrifice. Those mothers didn't hurt any less than the mothers that grieve today.

All history is written in blood.

Yet we, as Americans, have been so blessed for so long we have forgotten that this life is a vale of tears. I am a Christian. As such, I believe that there is good and there is evil. The Bible describes this world as Satan's home. Most of history points to that, but there have been a few, brief times in history that a group has been so sheltered from the many evils of the world that they begin to think that they can enjoy a heaven-like state here on Earth.

I had a friend who was in a class at Orange Coast College on Monday, September the 10th, 2001.  The professor lectured that day that there was no such thing as good and evil on this earth -  only what some people like,  and what some people don't like. On that Monday morning, the students sat quietly and took notes.

When that class met again, two days later on the 12th, many of the students walked in, angry,  and told the teacher he was a fool.

We can only believe the lie until we are hit with the harsh reality of the truth.

Friday morning, December 14th, the truth hit many of us that we live in a evil world.

It honestly shouldn't have come as such a surprise to us.

Ask any of the relatives of the estimated 75 million that Mao Zedong killed while bring communism to China about whether there is evil in this world. Ask the relatives of the 19,000 lost in the Japanese tsunami.

I am in no way trying to take away from the evil that happened Friday, nor am I trying to put their loss into perspective. It's just.... for those of us on the outside, who feel kicked in the chest (even though we didn't know any of them personally), I think there is a lesson. Our reaction shows how isolated we are from what so much of the world deals with every day, and what is common to history.

If we are blessed,  we should adopted an attitude of "blessed to be a blessing". I have heard people use the phrase "count your blessings" before.  In the past, I've only thought about it as counting the good things that have happened to me.
Today, for the first time, I thought about it differently.    I have never thought to count the things that haven't happened as blessings.

The cancer I haven't gotten.

The children that I haven't lost.

No where can I point to my life and say I deserve to not have pain.

I am not trying to cover all the, "How can a good God allow this" type questions writing this. I'm just sharing that I was convicted as I thought about what had happened, and I realized I had taken my eyes of the goal.

This is not my home.

This life will pass in a moment, and only what I have done that affects souls will matter, because only they will last. I need to be more focused on the eternal.

By keeping the eternal in focus I will see this world for what it is/

It will be easy to be obsessed with this story and get glued to the news.

I am going to choose a different path. I am going to focus on who I can bless. I get to go help at a Christmas party this Saturday, taking Christmas pictures for abused women and children. They don't need more sorrow.

Also,  I want to do more then just hug my kids. I want to teach them that none of us knows how much time we have, but we should spend what time we do have affecting those around us.

I want them to understand that there is evil in the world--- and yet even still they should be able to find joy.

5 Comments:

Blogger Snipe said...

I think we feel grief most keenly when it's associated with the things we know. The loss of the 160 children is a terrible tragedy, but the school shooting is closer and easier to relate to our own lives. It's also sad beyond words.

December 21, 2012 at 1:08 AM  
Blogger lytha said...

I was thinking of my favorite verse today, and it fits with your post.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

What I discern to be evil inside myself is more complicated than that - I'm under the influence of the source of evil, not just human nature. But by chance today I came across another:

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

It helps me to hold onto this.

December 21, 2012 at 2:23 AM  
Blogger redhorse said...

I believe that if you raise two children to be kind, productive members of society, you don't have to worry about earning your blessings in life. You've earned them.

When I was younger I knew a couple of girls close to my age who died from brain tumors. One of them was my cousin, she had 3 children and was one of the best mothers, and kindest people I ever knew. I've known other people too who died too young, leaving children and grieving families. I used to think the world would be a better place if it had been me instead of them. I'm sarcastic, and have a bad sense of humor, and have only animals, no children, sometimes I fight with my sister, mother and my grandmother when she was alive. So, I haven't earned my blessings either, or even my life. But, I'm going to be happy anyway.

If you read history, you realize that we have lived in a blessed country, in a blessed time. Who knows why Nancy Lanza got such a bad deal that she had a son who killed her? She probably made some mistakes, but no worse than the rest of us.

At times like this it's good to look up the poem "Birches," by Robert Frost. Toward the end he says,

"I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate wilfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better."

Peace out.

December 21, 2012 at 9:36 AM  
Blogger Bif said...

I am commenting on John's essay...

The people that were angry at the professor hadn't actually gotten the message. It's what *we* perceive as evil, what the 911-ers perceive as victory. Liked and not liked.

If we disagree, and say that is clearly evil, I can't argue. But I will point out that Christians have done the same things: the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc.

When people say they think the Palestinians are evil, I ask them to imagine that they are told by Chinese, Russian, and Canadian rulers that their state, along with Florida, California, and all of New England are being give to the Native Americans.

It IS the same thing. We just can't see it.

Too many average Americans lack any sense or depth of history and human suffering to be found in history.

We are torn apart by the Conn shootings, because all can relate, and its not like those kindergartners bullied this kid, or whatever. That';s what makes it worse than Columbine, or Va Tech, or any of the number of things that go on.

But we Americans systemically and PURPOSEFULLY wiped out entire races and ethnicities in taking this country.

"We are the "Good Guys". Things like that shouldn't happen here."

As long as Americans fail to see how entitled, greedy, self-centered and wasteful we appear to the world, we'll never understand why terrorists hate us, or why shootings happen.

Some people would rather call it senseless. Some people want to have an armed LEO in every school. The answer, or as close as you can get, is to determine the cause, and how to ameliorate its effect.

Or envision the outcome you want, and look realistically at HOW you can have that outcome come about, even though it seems "unfair" or counter-intuitive.

You don't fix poverty and crime by punishing those with less money and saying they are not trying hard enough.

You don't let generation after generation languish in poverty and drugs and then blame the home life for why they are stuck there. You figure out how to get a generation out of that morass, which takes money unavailable by that tax base.

Why should I give money to those who don't earn it?
The country wins in the end.
Lower crime.
Better health.
Leaders instead of prisoners.

Americans need to look at history and learn something, to realize that living here is a huge blessing and not proof that we are superior.

We need perspective of life and the human condition.


that is all

December 21, 2012 at 2:29 PM  
Blogger AareneX said...

At the midnight service of my parents' church tonight, the bell was rung 28 times. I counted.

Some people (and some organizations) really do pay attention to the whole picture.

December 25, 2012 at 12:52 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home